Optics can be deceiving. In Procession i, what seems massive is miniscule. The separate monoliths are a single pebble, no larger than a fingernail. I dwarf them/it, yet in this image they hover over a landscape dwarfing rocks that dwarfed me. When looking at this image we infer that the separate stones maintain a constant size and recede in space, not that rocks of varying size are slightly higher and lower than one another. Their linear placement helps reinforce this assumption, but even if they were not placed linearly we would try to make this inference. If you look closely you will discover that we haven’t got enough information to determine their exact sizes, so the best we can do is assume that they are of roughly equal size, an assumption that is confirmed by the close similarity of the two largest monoliths. This helps confirm relative scale within the image, but it does little to confirm the scale of the objects relative to objects outside the image. Here we can only guess. Nonetheless, our guesses are limited to a general range. Everything in the image could be tiny, a collection of pebbles, but it’s more than likely that it’s relatively grand. A human figure might fit neatly on the small path in the dust, still it’s fairly certain that it’s not gigantic; the monoliths are not the size of skyscrapers. Overlap or abutment would help make relative size relationships more specific. Adding a recognizable object with an easily identifiable scale would give certain confirmation. Lacking that, we make an assumption, one that is easily called into question, to fix the relationships within the image or else the relationships remain fluid; they oscillate based on interpretation. As well as defining relative size, scale also helps define relative position. The placement of the monoliths relative to the ground is similarly ambiguous. The closer to us we imagine the monoliths to be, the smaller they seem; the further away, the larger they seem. Again there is a general range of possibilities, but no one definitively fixed size.
I’ve always enjoyed distortions in scale. Whether they embody a subjective response, wish fulfillment, or optical illusion, all are interesting to me. While I spend a great deal of time ascertaining the objective sizes of things and the spaces between them, my experience of size always seems elastic. No size ever appears fixed. The further the object is from me the smaller it seems. The closer it is to me the larger it seems. I look to the horizon and see a tiny mesa. I drive towards it; it grows. Once I’m there, it’s huge. Previously I seemed large, now I seem small. Is something large or small? Compared to what? From what perspective?
Scale helps define space. It’s no mistake that I am fascinated by it. I spend hours looking at tiny details in nature. Isolated pockets seem like whole worlds unto themselves, worlds within worlds. I spend hours looking at the ocean, the desert, and the sky. These vast territories can seem abstract, flat, at times small. As I hold my hand up to the sky, it obscures a cloud or a galaxy. Alternately these places can seem overwhelmingly spacious, deep, and enormous. Physically enter any one of these places and the more that time passes, the greater they seem. I dwarf and am dwarfed.